Hammel, author of two well-received books on the Marines in Lebanon (The Root) and Korea (Chosin), here turns to Guadalcanal, providing a splendid record of this decisive campaign in WW II's Pacific theater. Hammel offers a wealth of fresh material drawn from archival sources and the recollections of 100-odd surviving participants on both the US and Japanese sides. With his customary thoroughness, the author clarifies precisely why military strategy in the Pacific depended mainly on the ranges of land-based fighter aircraft. This introductory explanation adds valuable perspective to Hammel's narrative account of the eastern Solomons' clash, which developed into a classic three-dimensional conflict. Fierce battles were waged in the island's fetid jungles, at sea, and in the air as both foes stretched their supply lines and manpower to breaking points. When the Guadalcanal invasion was launched on August 7, 1942, Hammel reports, neither US nor Japanese commanders knew what they were getting into. Six bloody months later, American forces finally controlled the island and its vital air base. Superior logistics had much to do with the victory. As the author makes clear in gritty detail, however, the triumph belonged to Marines and National Guardsmen who stood their ground at outposts like Alligator Creek and Bloody Ridge; to the daring air crews and sailors, and thousands of their unsung comrades. By any measure, Guadalcanal was a hard-won prize. Casualties were staggering on both sides, particularly among the ill-fed, poorly equipped Japanese ground troops. Material losses were high as well, with the campaign costing each navy 26 warships, plus scores of smaller craft. The game was worth the candle, Hammel concludes, because Japanese expansion in the Pacific was stopped cold at ""the Canal."" A praiseworthy contribution to Guadalcanal lore.